2010 was an exciting year for digital and mobile media and it can be defined as the year in which digital media came of age with Apps and Tablets leading the way. 2011 will build on this trend with competitors launching new products and applications. Consumers will also continue to define and adapt how they use digital and social media to benefit their lives. Here are ten trends that iMedia believe will shape the 2011 Digital World, it makes a good read:

1. The year of the (Android) tablet

Tablets will soon be the norm, particularly those using the Android operating system. Latest chatter suggests it will be released early this year and will battle the mighty Apple in the same way Android phone did with the iPhone in 2010.

“The new generation of powerful smartphones and tablets along with ubiquitous 3/4G and wi-fi will help the industry achieve the growth that has been promised the last few years. This combined with more location based applications and services that appeal to users on the move, mean 2012 will truly see the industry come of age,” says mobile advertising company Adfonic COO, Paul Childs.

2. Mobile

With the focus on apps, mobile sites took a back seat in 2010, but as brands realise that they can’t build apps for every mobile platform, the focus will shift back to creating a mobile web site presence and web-based apps. Customers will increasingly use their mobiles for in-store browsing to check price comparison sites and make purchases on the spot using a growing range of mobile payment options.

3. Location, location, location

Now Facebook has its own offering, Facebook Places, expect more brands to look into location-based marketing using old kids on the block such as Foursquare but also newbies popping up now the big FB has opted in. This year will see a rapid increase in location-based advertising with new inventory and applications from local search to small businesses creating their own mobile web presence

4. Even more Facebook

It may come as no surprise but the social media giant hasn’t even begun to peak yet. Rumours of the social media giant floating on the stockmarket may still be just that, as it seems that Zuckerberg’s masterplan involves more than just Time magazine’s Man of the Year title. But you can be sure that it will have more and more influence on people’s daily routine and therefore more brands will need to pay attention to how they can use it to reach out to customers. People will choose restaurants based on friend recommendations and with Facebook Places (see above) and Facebook Deals nipping at its heels, marketers must keep their finger to the Facebook pulse.

5. Data. And lots of it

With people sharing so much of their lives online, data is an area sizzling with action. The growth and trends are coming in three areas: acquisition of more online data, integrating online and offline data and data optimisation, to make better use of all this information.

6. Privacy

When European Union privacy laws come into force later this year, not only will it have an impact on how marketers do business within the UK but potentially how our other countries can market within Britain. In a nutshell, the legislation, which is part of a larger piece of proposed legislation aimed at telecom providers, requires users opt in for ‘data mining’ being carried out by search engines or through other behavioural targeting practices.

1. In the EU, starting in May 2011, dropping and accessing a tracking mechanism like a cookie will become illegal without explicit permission to do such.
2. US legislators might attempt another go at federal privacy legislation in 2011 which would require an opt-in to collect and process data.
3. By the end of this year, Canada is looking at putting into place an anti-spam law that will make the sending of “spam” illegal and prosecutable.

Over the next few years marketers can expect to see more privacy requirements imposed on marketing processes. Much of this is due to the sheer volume of information being kept on individuals but do not fret! Most of today’s marketing best practices already ask you to obtain permission to collect and use data on individuals.

7. Augmented reality

Augmented reality (AR) is an engaging way of combining live video with computer-generated data and visualisations. We’re just getting used to these ‘minority report’ effects, but there’s more on the way. E-consultancy has put together some mind boggling examples. Some are just prototypes but they show the incredible possibilities.

8. Personalisation

Your internet experience will continue to get more personalised. With your information following you as you move around the internet your online world will get more and more targetted to your lifestyle and preferences. Searches will know what you want before you do, websites will take their lead from iGoogle, advertising will be more mobile. In a study by Experian (May, 2010), 83 per cent of respondents said they wanted organisations to treat them as individuals and 62 per cent of consumers agreed that they are more receptive towards marketing that is tailored to their needs and circumstances. It’s a relatively clear indication that fears about Phorm-style activity are changing, as long as the consumer has control. 2011 will see advertisers fully focussed towards targetted marketing and more relevant advertising.

9. The convergence of search and social

SEO and social media teams will work closer together as the search engines include social as part of its ranking factors. The convergence of search and social media have opened a whole new dynamic world of searches where the traditional online web search and advertising are combined to form an eco-system of real-time search and real-time bidding.

With the launch of Google real-time search, Twitter-inspired “real-time” search results now have their own Google webpage.

Social Media has enabled a dynamic partnership between traditional search, SEO and PPC. With real-time search platforms and homepages needing further work, it nevertheless converges search and social media models. Since, real-time search is having an impact on SEO, as fresh real-time content trumps relevance, especially those that are news-related searches, real-time search, thus, requires SEO to include fresh content as well as relevance.

Plus, products such as Tinker.com, will take centre stage as applications which enable search, browsing, and discovery of real-time conversations on social media sites, including Twitter and Facebook. Tinker is the first application that allows publishers to create live topics, news, and events as well as moderate and curate the feeds, giving brand advertisers a trusted way to engage with users of the real-time web.

10. The demise of email?

Finally, and controversially, will 2011 see email denounced by all as ‘old technology’? Facebook certainly think so. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO argues that email is about to become yesterday’s technology. Speaking at Neilson Consumer 360, Sandberg said, “In consumer technology, if you want to know what people like us will do tomorrow, you look at what teenagers are doing today — and the latest figures say that only 11 per cent of teenagers email daily. So email — I can’t imagine life without it — is probably going away”.

Sandberg added that the majority of teens now communicate via social networks and SMS rather than email. 2011 will therefore start to see the slow decline of email as the main digital communication tool. Facebook’s ‘social inbox’ that integrates chat, texts and email into the user’s inbox is just the start…

TomorrowToday Global